A wrist fracture is a possible outcome of a trip and fall accident. If you land with full force on your hand, the jolt could cause a bone fracture and the need for medical care. If the fractured wrist is on your dominant hand, you may be concerned about the recovery period and how long you'll go without the use of your hand. Here's a look at how your orthopaedic doctor may treat your broken wrist and what to expect with recovery.
How Your Fractured Wrist May Be Treated
If you're having wrist pain, bad bruising, or swelling after a fall, it's good to see your doctor for an x-ray to see if your wrist is broken. Even if the broken bone doesn't cause intense pain, you'll want it treated so it heals in the proper position and doesn't cause ongoing problems. The treatment for a wrist fracture depends on how your wrist is broken. A cast may be all that's needed so your wrist is held in a stable position until the bone has healed.
If your bone won't stabilize, then wrist surgery may be needed. Your orthopaedic doctor may put in pins or a plate that holds the bones in place until they can heal. The pins might be taken out later or left in place. You might wear a cast or brace after the surgery to help support your wrist.
What To Expect With Healing
It may take months to heal from a broken wrist, especially if you have surgery. Even then, your wrist may have occasional pain or stiffness for a long time, although you should have use of your hand and arm before then. It's also possible to develop arthritis in your wrist as a result of a fracture, so following your doctor's advice for recovery and keeping your doctor's visits for monitoring is important for the best recovery.
Right after the surgery, you may need to keep your wrist elevated as much as possible to help with swelling. This could include wearing a sling so your arm doesn't hang at your side. You might be instructed to use ice to help with pain and swelling, and your doctor might prescribe pain medication for the short-term if your pain is bad. Physical therapy will likely be prescribed at some point in your recovery from wrist surgery. With limited use of your arm, your shoulder, arm, hand, and fingers could get weak. Learning the right movements keeps your muscles strong and helps prevent stiffness in your hand.
The length of time you need to take off from work depends on the type of work you do. You may wear a cast over your wrist and lower arm for several weeks, and your doctor may limit certain movements such as grasping and carrying heavy items. If you do light physical labor on your job, you'll be cleared to go back to work sooner than if you have to do heavy physical labor with your hands. For more information, reach out to companies like Orthopaedic Associates Of Rochester.